Competency hearing continues for Shreveport man accused in Ponzi scheme

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A competency hearing for a Shreveport businessman accused in a Ponzi scheme continued into a second day.

Friday morning, defense attorneys for David deBerardinis called Dr. Erin David Bigler to testify about brain imaging findings conducted in an MRI done on deBerardinis in Shreveport in May of this year.

Dr. Bigler examined deBerardinis MRI and he said the findings showed abnormalities that are consistent with a neurocognitive disorder. He found deBerardinis brain has White Matter Hyperintensities. In which in a normal, healthy brain of the same age, you do not want to find White Matter Hyperintensities. So it is not a good finding and deBerardinis has a higher amount than compared to other brains his age.

A doctor testified Thursday that deBerardinis has one recorded brain injury from a car wreck in which he was treated at LSU Health for. And two other falls in his boat, which he did not go to the doctor for.

During cross-examination, the prosecution only asked a few questions including if Dr. Bigler had ever met deBerardinis or performed a competency test on him. In which he said no. The prosecution asked if the brain scan findings show deBerardinis is unfit to stand trial. In which Dr. Bigler said no in his opinion.

According to his federal indictment, deBerardinis operated numerous business entities and represented himself as part of the petroleum industry involved in the sale, trade, and transport of fuel. He even allegedly disguised himself as an Orthodox Jewish businessman at one point while trying to obtain investor funds from a New York-based private equity group after hiring a professional makeup artist.

deBerardinis faces 20 years in prison for the wire fraud counts and 30 years in prison for the attempted bank fraud count. He also faces a $1 million fine, restitution, forfeiture, and five years of supervised release for each count.

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